Spring is just around the corner but the long evenings are still with us. Time to snuggle up with your favorite RS Perry novel and dream of a trip to some of the locations featured in them. It may be a little cold for a hike in the Pasayten, but how about a trip to Arizona, making a short hop Over The Line into Mexico.
If it’s a touch of the old Wild West you’re after, you can’t go wrong in Tombstone. You can shoot it out in a gunfight at the OK Corral like Heather’s friends Kristina and Nicola or visit any number of saloons and Music Halls. And for those of you like Ralphy who are more keen to fill your stomachs than empty your guns, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors to choose from.
If you are interested in mining and want to see what a mine was like in its heyday, then head to Bisbee. You can have a tour of a real mine and learn of some the hard and sometimes tragic life of the miners. You can even go prospecting for gold. But don’t feel you need to avoid the abandoned mine near El Sauz. The terrible things that happened to the University group there were only fiction, thank goodness.
The Arizona-Sonora desert museum is not to be missed. There are examples of many of the plants, minerals and wild life of the area, all in surroundings as close to their natural habitat as you can get. See if you can spot olneya tesota or ironwood and peniocereus striata, the plants that the two sergeants were supposed to be collecting when they went on their recon mission to the hacienda.
Just Over the Line from the U.S, border town of Douglas, Arizona is Nogales. As in most cities, it is best to be careful but if you want to pick up a bargain at up to half what you pay stateside, there are plenty of shops and stalls aimed at tourists doing just that though you will need to haggle. You can also sample authentic Mexican food and wine. After that, you will probably want to drive straight through Tubutama with your windows closed!
Arizona is surely a must for those who, like Jim Johnson, are interested in anything to do with astronomy. It has some of the most prestigious observatories in the world including Kitt Peak Observatory, the University of Arizona Biosphere, Spencer’s Observatory and the Planetary Science Institute. University of Arizona astronomers were just involved in finding the largest black hole yet discovered.
Unfortunately, the Fort Huachuca Museums are closed for renovation at the moment but we only have room to mention some of the places to visit on your Over The Line tour. There are plenty more, such as the Nature Conservancy birding center in the Huachuca Mountains. And hikes and trails enough to keep you occupied for a week or maybe more. Why not re-read the book and plan your own itinerary in the footsteps of Jim, Brush, Heather and their companions. Remember, stay watchful, stay safe and enjoy. It could turn out to be a great adventure.